Georgia Baseball Claims 2008 SEC Title With Win Over Vanderbilt

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- It was the Bulldogs sixth overall SEC title in school history (1933, 1953, 1954, 2001, 2004, 2008), the third this decade including the second under head coach David Perno.

The Bulldogs won the series over the defending SEC champion Commodores who took game one Friday to trim Georgia's SEC lead to two games. However, the Bulldogs stormed back to win the series, marking the third time this year they have dropped game one of an SEC road series only to come back and win it. The Bulldogs (33-17-1, 19-7-1 SEC) close out the SEC regular season Thursday with Alabama coming to Foley Field for a three-game series. Georgia owns a four-game lead in the SEC over Vanderbilt and LSU as Sunday's win clinched the 2008 crown.

In the second inning, Georgia batted around to build a 6-0 lead taking advantage of a leadoff error by third baseman Pedro Alvarez. The Bulldogs pushed across the first run on a fielder's choice by Matt Cerione and then junior second baseman Miles Starr delivered a two-run double. Senior Ryan Peisel followed with an RBI-single to make it 4-0. Senior Matt Olson smacked a double as Peisel went to third. Gordon Beckham's sacrifice fly scored Peisel and Olson would score on an RBI-double off the wall in left field by Rich Poythress. However, the Commodores (37-15. 15-11 SEC) responded with four runs in their half of the second highlighted by a two-run home run by Dominic de la Osa.

In the third, freshman Lyle Allen blooped a single to start the frame. He notched his first career stolen base and with one out, Cerione smashed his fourth home run of the year, a two-run shot that gave the Bulldogs an 8-4 lead. In the sixth following a one-out single by Peisel, Vanderbilt lifted Nick Christiani and turned to Taylor Hill. Olson greeted him with a three-run home run to extend Georgia's lead to 11-4. Christiani surrendered 10 runs on 12 hits in 5.1 innings with no walks and six strikeouts. The teams exchanged runs in the seventh as Cerione collected his career-high fourth RBI while Alvarez tripled and scored to make it 12-5. In the eighth, Vanderbilt closed the gap to 12-7 on a two-out, two-run single by David Macias off freshman Justin Grimm. At that point, the Bulldogs turned to sophomore Dean Weaver and de la Osa lined an RBI-double down the left field line to make it 12-8. Alvarez followed with a run-scoring single to right to close the gap to 12-9.

In the ninth, Georgia brought in senior All-America closer Joshua Fields who recorded his 15th save of the year, tying the school record also held by Alex Barylak (1993). Fields owns the SEC record with 38 career saves. Vanderbilt did not go quietly, scratching for a run on one hit but then Fields struck out Brad French for the final out and the Bulldogs were 2008 SEC Champions.

"I am really proud of the team, they have played one of the nation's toughest schedules and battled throughout the SEC season at home and on the road," said Georgia coach David Perno. "We pitched well, played great defense and swung the bats extremely well today. Nathan (Moreau) came through with another big start and we got contributions from everybody in the lineup and off the bench. It was a lot of fun today even with my emotions up and down throughout the game."

Moreau got the win to improve to 3-2 while Christiana got the loss to fall to 5-3. Moreau gave the Bulldogs six innings, scattering four runs on nine hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

Georgia will be back in action Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta against Georgia Tech. The sixth annual "Spring Baseball Classic For Kids" game between the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets will begin at 7:06 p.m. and be televised by SportSouth. The Bulldogs hold a 4-1 edge in the series played at the home of the Atlanta Braves and serves as a fundraiser for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and its Brain and Spinal Cord Tumor Program.